In just two years, 1965 and 1966, Lee Morgan recorded 7 albums and of course, they were all great. Having Billy Higgins as his drummer more frequently improved and propelled him further. Wayne Shorter and Jackie Mclean also helped with this new sound which combined with many others helped listeners to focus more on the mid 60′s movement. Times were changing and Lee Morgan along with his ensembles were a big part of it. The transformation from Hard Bop had begun just a couple of years earlier and Lee Morgan’s influence popularize and propelled this new hip sound further on to permanently iron it into music history. There were other great musicians involved also but Lee Morgan was a great component, he helped keep Jazz on its feet and with superior dignity through the rest of the decade.
Note to all new readers of the Cubanology MediaBlog: All the podcasts are located in the beginning and end of the post. I suggest opening up the podcast by clicking on “Play in new window” so you can scroll through the post itself and visit the links and/or go on with your business and listen in the background. Thank you and enjoy!
( 1965) 1. “Edda” and 2. “Venus di Mildew” From the “The Rumproller” CD Album.
Hardbop trumpet doyen Lee Morgan knew a good thing when it hit him over the head, so when the title track from his 1963 album THE SIDEWINDER became a sleeper smash inaugurating a whole wave of soul jazz boogaloo, he was smart enough to come up with an album along the same lines, thus releasing THE RUMPROLLER.
Picking up right where its famed predecessor left off, RUMPROLLER offers a similar blend of percolating, hard-driving, R&B-derived grooves, occasional Latin rhythmic touches, and harmonically straightforward riffing. A thousand jazzers got on board the SIDEWINDER gravy train in the ’60s, but nobody did it better than the originator, which becomes clear upon listening to him lay into the steady-cooking title track as well as the poignant Billie Holiday homage “The Lady.”….Read More
3. “Yes I can, No you can’t” and 4. “you go to my head” From “The Gigolo” CD Album.
About the Album:
More quintessential hard bop from one of the genre’s leading figures at the height of his considerable powers as a composer and trumpeter. Morgan had just returned to solo work a year earlier after his second stint with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers; in 1965 the trumpeter also released CORNBREAD and THE RUMPROLLER and did numerous sessions as a sideman. Morgan composed the title track, and three others including the Coots/Gillespie ballad “You Go To My Head” round things out.
“Yes I Can, No You Can’t” opens with the rhythm section laying down a churning vamp; the horns enter with a typical Morgan statement, funky, swaggering and confident. “Speedball” is a bebop-style blues, but more relaxed, with a secondary theme appearing in the third chorus of the head. “Trapped,” a modified minor blues, is more urgent, while “The Gigolo” is a brooding and majestic jazz waltz more evocative of a bullfight than of the ballroom. Throughout, the ensemble work is tight and the solos crackle with passion and joy……Read More
5. “Cornbread” and 6. “Ceora” From the “Cornbread” CD Album.
CORNBREAD offers a typical mid-’60s Morgan set of four originals and a standard. “Most Like Lee” is a straight-ahead minor blues swinger, while the title cut is a swaggering 20-bar blues workout for the three horns that owes as much to Horace Silver’s down-home gospel-inflected composing as it does to tunes like Morgan’s own hit “The Sidewinder.” Altoist Jackie McLean lays out for “Ceora,” a bossa nova with a bop-inflected melody and a beautifully stealthy set of changes. “Our Man Higgins” is, not surprisingly, a drum feature for Billy Higgins that splits the difference between modal blowing and the blues when it comes to the solos.
The band’s take on Koehler and Arlen’s “Ill Wind” is an artful piece of laziness, a bluesy yet carefully arranged ballad with Morgan blowing muted trumpet throughout. The amazing thing about the Blue Note era is that it produced recordings like CORNBREAD as a matter of course. …...Read More
7. “Miss Nettie B.” and 8. “Zip Code” From the “Infinity” CD Album.
Unlike some labels, Blue Note doesn’t need to cobble together alternate takes, false starts or second-rate sessions to put out previously unheard material. With prolific artists like Morgan, the label recorded more than they could ever practically issue in any given year. As a result, over thirty years later, sessions like INFINITY surface. Like many other Morgan albums from the same period, it features Jackie McLean on alto and Billy Higgins on drums, compositions by Morgan (and one by McLean), and was recorded in one day at Van Gelder studios. In other words, it was conceived as a real release from the outset.
In addition to Reggie Workman on bass, INFINITY also features the lesser-known Larry Willis on piano, who injects a healthy dose of down-home stylings into the alternately funky and cerebral writing. There are no forced efforts at another radio hit here: “Miss Nettie B.” is the blues as drifting summer wind and “Infinity” provides room to stretch out, freed, in the words of Roy Chernus’ liner notes, “from the fearsome melodic saturation and often maze-like harmonic complexity epitomized by Charlie Parker…”……Read More
(1966) 9. “Zambia” and 10. “Nite-Flite” From the “Delightfulee” CD Album.
About the Album:
As Lee Morgan’s career moved from hard and post-bop to soul-jazz, Delightfulee serves as a further bridge in a half-and-half fashion. Four of the seven cuts feature his potent quintet with a young and emerging tenor saxophonist, Joe Henderson, as his front line mate, McCoy Tyner ever brilliant on piano, and Billy Higgins firing up the rhythm as only the drummer could. The remainder of the date consists of tracks orchestrated by Oliver Nelson featuring an 11-piece ensemble. There are two selections that feature versions of compositions with both configurations. “Zambia” is a post-bop classic in Morgan’s repertoire, sporting a memorable, concise, no-nonsense melody line punctuated by Tyner’s piano chords, but in big-band style, it is full and rich, maybe too much so. The easy, deep waltz “Delightful Deggie,” may benefit from the orchestration. Wayne Shorter is the featured tenor on the larger group tracks, while saxophonists Danny Bank and Phil Woods (both doubling on flute, a rarity for Woods),trombonist Tom McIntosh, tuba player Don Butterfield,and French Horn icon James Buffington supply the depth. The drummer for the big-and cuts is Philly Joe Jones, and again, is quite a contrast to the smoother Higgins…..Read More
11. “Somethin’ Cute” and 12. “Sweet Honey Bee” From the “Charisma” CD Album.
Yet another mid-’60s Blue Note album that makes a coherent artistic statement despite personnel that reads like an all-star blowing date. Jackie McLean (alto), Hank Mobley (tenor) and Cedar Walton (piano) were all bandleaders in their own right; bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Billy Higgins were as in demand as any sidemen of the day (for that matter, Morgan played on countless record dates as a sideman himself, including several of Mobley’s sessions). Nevertheless, this sextet hangs together like a veteran unit, playing with wit, fire and enthusiasm throughout.
CHARISMA features four of the trumpeter’s tunes, all solid, but the two standout cuts are Walton’s ballad “Rainy Night” and “Sweet Honey Bee,” composed by Blue Note pianist and sometime A&R man Duke Pearson. Morgan lays back and leans forward, stuttering and double-timing his way through the serpentine chord progression of Pearson’s tightly-knit, bluesy little gem, while Higgins’ creativity provides a shimmering, ever-shifting context for all three soloists…..Read More
13. “A Pilgrim’s funny Farm” and “What now my love?” From “The Rajah” CD Album.
This long-lost Lee Morgan session was not released for the first time until it was discovered in the Blue Note vaults by Michael Cuscuna in 1984; it has still not been reissued on CD. Originals by Cal Massey, Duke Pearson (“Is That So”) and Walter Davis, in addition to a couple of surprising pop tunes (“What Not My Love” and “Once in My Lifetime”) and Morgan’s title cut, are well-played by the quintet (which includes the trumpeter/leader, Hank Mobley on tenor, pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Billy Higgins). Much of the music is reminiscent of The Jazz Messengers and that may have been the reason that it was lost in the shuffle for Morgan was soon investigating modal-oriented tunes…..Read More
Here’s the Podcast ENJOY!
Here’s Part Four:
Well, I’ve reached the end of my personal tribute to trumpeter Lee Morgan. This is Part Four and the Final Part of the “Lee Morgan Project.” A chronological presentation of all the albums he produced as a front man. It is an abruptly sad ending and unjustly similar to the sudden end of his life, at the age of 33…..Link
…….this podcast here will deal with the seven albums he recorded from 1960 to 1964. There are three sets in total and all the information is below…….Go to Link
And Part One:
……….. I have named it “The Lee Morgan Project.” This here particular post and podcast will be Part One and concentrates on his first 8 albums. It ranges from 1956 to 1958. He was very talented, as Blue Note records took a chance on him at the ripe age of 18……Go to Link